Steve Gibson

Grand Ole Opry Musical Director

“…we are all just so pleased with the V52. I personally played all of the guitars when they arrived and was very impressed at the consistency of construction, set up and sound. These are a fantastic discovery …”

Years ago, Steve Gibson was playing the honky-tonks and dance halls of central Illinois.

The teenager found plenty of work as a member of the American Federation of Musicians’ Peoria Local 26. His parents always tagged along to watch him play, being music fans themselves.

Fast forward several decades. That teenager is now the music director of the Grand Ole Opry and has earned himself a reputation as Nashville’s go-to guy, working with many of the top musicians of the industry since moving to Nashville, Tenn., in the 1970s.

“I am grateful,” Gibson said recently by telephone. “I have to pinch myself and remind myself that I’m the same kid that used to go to Matthews Music on Main Street, look at the guitars and say ‘I wish I could have one of those someday.’”

“When I was growing up, we were influenced by the whole British music invasion,” he said. “My father was a country music guy and my mom liked more pop standard music. I had two older brothers who were children of rock ‘n’ roll, so I was exposed to everything.”

He was good at music, so he started playing with bands at taverns in and around Peoria. He was accepted into the American Federation of Musicians at age 14.

Peoria was a great place to work, lots of union involvement. If you wanted to be a professional, you joined a union,” said Gibson, who played Gil’s Supper Club, Hanna City Tap and the East Peoria circuit near the Caterpillar complex, as well as local halls. That was back when taverns were neighbourhood meeting places that always had a live band on Saturday nights.

“I owe so very much to the fact that my mother and father supported this and, to the best of my recollection, I don’t think they ever missed a night of being with me while I performed,” said Gibson, who is married with three adult children. “I realize what a huge commitment they made for me to be able to have those experiences.”

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